PORN VALLEY—Anyone who's watched adult videos over the past 20 years knows who Steven St. Croix is. Aside from starring in such all-time hits as Haunted Nights, Dog Walker, Sex Trek 4 & 5, Blue Movie, Vivid's Stardust series, I Dream of Jenna 1 &2, Rawhide and Pirates 1 & 2, he became, in 1996, Vivid Entertainment's first contract man (with a $1 million insurance policy on his genitalia). Besides being a universally respected, multi-award-winning adult performer and model, he's also a painter in his private life—and now, he's speaking out against L.A. County Measure B, which would require adult producers to use condoms, latex gloves, face shields and other "barriers" in sex scenes in adult movies, in as many media as he can manage.
"Hi, I'm Steven St. Croix," his first public service announcement begins. "I'm a 20-year veteran of the adult film industry here in California. I've performed in over 1,400 films, close to 2,000 scenes with as many partners. And during that time in the industry, I've had to submit well over 300 blood tests for HIV and STDs according to what's mandated by the industry as a whole. And during that time, do you want to know how many infections I've caught? One infection, one time: Chlamydia. Now, there are those that would have you believe that the adult industry doesn't do enough in policing, protecting and testing their talent according to established medical protocols. That simply is not true."
His second PSA deals more with the bad economics of creating a governmental agency devoted to solving a "problem" that doesn't even exist: Rampant STD transmission on adult movie sets.
"Measure B on the November ballot is a terrible waste of L.A. County taxpayers' money," St. Croix intoned. "Instead of providing important public health services like outpatient clinics for the unemployed, flu shots for children and seniors, this measure would spend your tax money sending public health officials to adult film sets to regulate how it's made. Well over 10,000 jobs and over $1 billion in economic activity could leave Los Angeles County. This is bad for public health. It's bad for workers. It's bad for Los Angeles."
Both PSAs conclude with the admonition, "Get the facts and vote 'No' on Measure B."
"I was compelled to do these two videos, as I felt that the issue was suffering from being divided into factitious elements; namely that the industry was against condom use and some even tried to make it an issue of straight versus gay," St. Croix explained. "The numbers the proponents are basing their campaign on, are outright misinformation.
"It is simply a matter of freedom of choice," he continued. "We have a choice to enter into the business as performers. We have a choice of working behind the scenes as crew. We have a choice to wear condoms. We have the choice to leave and move on.
"As clearly as First Amendment attorney Alan Gelbard spoke to the City of L.A.'s Working Group on condoms when he said, 'This ordinance (government act) ... constitutes compelled speech and violates the rights of freedom of expression,' I felt I was in a position to help and to focus attention on this illegal action."
And focus attention he has! In fact, he's devoted an entire page of his website to the fight, and early on, he relates his opinion what much of the controversy is really about:
"It is a campaign, spearheaded by elected officials and made manifest through certain private interest groups that have aligned themselves in order to be rewarded in the future with power and influence to further the eroding of our civil rights as provided by the Bill of Rights." [Emphasis in original, here and below]
"Whether you believe the government has the right to mandate your private life and sexual practices or not, one cannot argue that our freedom to choose has been lessened," St. Croix continues. "Given that these interests stood idly by when the right for gay couples to marry was overturned by conservative voters years back, these same people are betting that they can manipulate the voters into thinking that this measure serves to protect the public. They are betting that they can lie and get away with it... We are bastardized, shamed and pointed to as they cry out, 'Here's the real culprit, these are the dirty, disease-ridden people that would rather make a buck than protect your sons and daughters.'"
St. Croix appears to be of the opinion that local officials support the mandatory condom measures—the one already passed in the city and the one that will be voted on in November by residents of L.A. County—as a pretext to oust the adult industry from L.A. altogether, despite the fact that some city councilpersons have privately expressed their understanding that on-set inspections for condom use will be a fiscal nightmare—the city has been trying for more than six months to find qualified inspectors, to no avail, and is waiting to see the result of the County vote before proceeding further—and some support for the industry's efforts to strike down the onerous laws.
But whether the brunt of the blame should fall on elected officials or on the hierarchy of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, who brought these ballot measures to the city and county electorates (though the LA City Council approved the wording of its ballot measure before citizens could weigh in on it), St. Croix makes it clear, in authoritative, compassionate prose, just who will be affected by the measures.
"From the 18 year old newbie doing web cam shows all the way up to the owners of companies who’ve done time in prison for your right to express yourself," St. Croix specifies. "From the single mom of two in the office trying to collect 6 months of past due monies from distributors to the guy in the back room stacking boxes of DVDs. The editors, sitting in rooms for 12 hours with no daylight, their eyes glazing over as they put together a feature of some hot girl they may never meet having the kind of sex they wish they could participate in... The mom lugging her costumes around the country on the dance circuit so she can do shows and make enough money to pay for her kids because the father left years before. The guy doing scenes so he can pay for his band's recording time in the studio. The father fighting to pay for his son's medical treatment that his insurance won't cover while the mother recuperates from severe immune problems. The director who swears that she will not be like her own never-present-mother and actually loves the sound of her little girl screaming, 'Beeeekfessssss!', in the morning, while her own mother left only Twinkies in the cupboards growing up. The contract star who donates her time and raises money for some of the biggest charities in the country. The photographer watching his son graduate from one of the best schools in Southern California, hounded by college scouts because he could afford to live where he did because of his job in the industry. The people picking out wardrobe and making the sets. The production assistants. The cameramen. The directors and producers. These are the people they’ve written off."
Moreover, St. Croix knows who the proponents of Measure B are targeting in the cash-strapped city where more than one in 10 adults is out of work.
"They’re counting on us to be so wrapped up in our daily lives, that we won’t have time to stand up and say, 'This is not right!" St. Croix charges. "They’re counting out the girls who have survived breast cancer, cervical cancer, endless yeast infections, abusive boyfriends and husbands. They are counting out the guys trying to do the right thing and raising a family the best they know how. They’re counting out the people who have beaten their addictions and have gone clean. They’re counting out the people trying to save their houses from foreclosure. Or trying to pay for insurance. Or their car payment. Or their tuition fees for the next semester. Or simply feeding their kids.
"They’re counting out the ones who racked up thousands and millions in lawyers fees fighting charges in court. The ones who went to jail and got out with nothing. The marriages broken up, the relationships ended. They’re counting that you are so broken, you have no fight left ...
"They’re counting on you to shrug your shoulders and tweet another picture of your hairless cat, your ass, your pussy, your Bloody Mary or your plate of Peruvian food. They are counting on you being disinterested, tired, disengaged and stressed out. They’re counting on you to be silent."
There's much more to St. Croix's denunciation of Measure B, and few will be able to read it in its entirety and not be moved—but the veteran actor is also joining with the No on Government Waste Committee in urging a "people's revolt" against the measure beginning tomorrow morning.
"On Tuesday, September 25th at 9am PST, we are asking ALL adult video companies, their social media directors, producers, directors, talent, crew, assorted executive and management people and THE FANS of adult films to Tweet, ReTweet, post on their blogs or websites, link to or embed the following two NoToMeasureB clips [this one and this one] for one hour between 9 am PST and 10 am PST," the committee proposes and St. Croix supports. "We ask that all normal internet posting and tweets by all be held for one hour with all activity pointing to the two NoToMeasureB video clips. As we have limited funds for media exposure, we are taking our fight to the internet. We are hoping that a mass social media onslaught of the same message, at the same time, around the country and hopefully the world, will create the breakthrough point we need to get everyone, including the L.A. County voters, to really know what they are being presented with in November. We need to get the message out and BE HEARD by the mainstream press outlets that our FREEDOM OF SPEECH, FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, AND OUR FREEDOM OF CHOICE is being attacked and violated. In addition, the voters and taxpayers are being told that their hard-earned money is being thrown away on the frivilous personal agenda of a twisted minority. This is a moment that doesn't require you to march, starve yourself or set fire to yourself. All you need to do is raise that little index finger and click 'share,' 're-tweet,' 'post,' 'like,' 'Pin,' '+' or whatever and however you share on social media. This has worked for other causes and brought attention to the real issues at hand today. It is our belief that this will not only be a massive show of solidarity in a business that can, at times, be fractured and non-communicative. We also believe that fans, viewers and all people who enjoy the adult material we provide, can show their power and support for us and the right of free speech for all."
For those who haven't noticed, the election is just 44 days away—and it's way past time to let the public know how the industry feels about Measure B.